OH reveals plans to take innovation tools on the road with new Innovation Center

June 2, 2023 | 12:07 am

Updated June 2, 2023 | 12:28 am

Owensboro Health is moving forward with plans for the Commonwealth West Healthcare Workforce Innovation Center. Pictured is Bart Darrell, Vice President of the Innovation Center. | Photo by Josh Kelly

Owensboro Health is moving forward with plans for the Commonwealth West Healthcare Workforce Innovation Center. Bart Darrell, Vice President of the Innovation Center, said Thursday they are hoping to bring state-of-the-art healthcare technology to students across Western Kentucky. They are also launching a mobile lab.

In March, the Innovation Center received $38 million from the Kentucky General Assembly. Darrell said those funds will help get acquire the appropriate technology before the center opens.

“This is going to improve health care in our region. I can tell because we’re going to have more high-level professional training a different way, but it’s good because it’s also going to raise the educational levels in our communities,” Darrell said.

The center will serve K-12 schools in a 16-county area surrounding Daviess County, plus several postsecondary institutions including the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, and Brescia University along with community and technical colleges in Owensboro, Hopkinsville, Henderson, Madisonville and Elizabethtown.

Darrell said while Owensboro will be the headquarters, he wants to ensure that everyone can attend and benefit from the opportunities. So, they have created a mobile lab that appears as a 23’x20′ semi truck that has almost 10 hospital beds to simulate a medical room experience.

“It can be converted overnight into respiratory therapy or whatever we want. We can train EMS people in this thing. We can go to community centers and park it for two weeks and train people there that would normally take months to do the same thing,” Darrell said.

The headquarters, set to open this fall, is located at the former Owensboro Health Business Center. Darrell said renovations are being made to create two classrooms that will be fully equipped with a holographic board allowing for several different simulations to be created.

An additional room will be able to simulate everything down to the sounds and smells of a hospital,. The center will also provide virtual reality simulations to visualize bodily functions such as proper heartbeats and to teach anatomy.

“I believe that builds comfort, comfort builds confidence, confidence results in high performance. We want to shorten everything in the process of becoming a healthcare professional,” Darrell said.

They still plan to include the core lessons of the business while expediting the students’ learning experience.

The ultimate goal is to combat the shortage of medical professionals in the area, both by training more talent in Owensboro and attracting outside students.

“What we are going to do is provide more resources to our postsecondary education branch and our K-12 branch, and we’re going to connect them like they’ve never been connected before,” Darrell said. “In doing so, we’re going to widen the pathways for healthcare professionals.”

June 2, 2023 | 12:07 am

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